Monthly Archives: September 2015

Upcoming Pensacola festivals

Emily Doyle

Staff Writer

Pensacola is a city with a rich, diverse history and an active community; a community fueled by the Gulf of Mexico that celebrates good food, unique art and music that lifts the spirits.

Over the next few months, Pensacola is bursting with activities that show the city’s true colors. Here are just a few Pensacola pastimes happening within the next few months:

The 38th Annual Pensacola Seafood Festival: On Sept. 25-27 in downtown Pensacola, artists, food vendors, and musicians will come together to provide a fun weekend for all ages. There will be kid’s areas, live cooking demonstrations, more than 150 local artists and fresh seafood for all to enjoy. There is no admission fee to join in on all the fun that is the Pensacola Seafood Festival.

Bands on the Beach: Held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Tuesday through October at the Pensacola Beach Gulfside Pavilion, there’s no charge to come out and watch the featured band of the week. So pack some snacks and a beach chair, sit back and relax and let the music and salty breeze take away your stressors of the week.

Pensacola Beach Songwriters Festival: From Oct. 1-4 at Pensacola Beach’s many venues, this annual festival celebrates the people behind the music – the ones who wrote the songs. The festival showcases songwriters that have written with and for artists such as Willie Nelson, Stevie Nicks, George Strait, Jimmy Buffet, Ray Charles and many more. Festival attenders have the chance to experience meet-and-greets, participate in workshops and attend smaller intimate “listening room” performances. Most of the venues are free, with only a few events having a cover charge. The schedule is available here.

Gallery Nights: The last Gallery Night of the year is Oct. 16. Walk around the charming brick walkways of downtown Pensacola as you experience local artists showing their skills, live music, and many restaurants providing food and drink specials.

Great Coast Arts Festival: On Nov. 6-8 in Historic Seville Square in Downtown Pensacola, the art show draws in more than 200 of the nation’s best artists and craftsmen. The event has local live Cajun, blues and jazz musicians and performances daily from local entertainers. Admission is free.

As you can see, Pensacola takes the fall season by storm, by providing many fun weekends and opportunities for our community as soon as the weather gets cooler. These events provide a fun way to get acquainted with the community and culture of this amazing area.

If you are a University of West Florida student who wants to go to these events but have no transportation, UWF provides two free Escambia County Area Transit bus tickets a day. To find out more about how to utilize the UWF bus system, look at their website here.

UWF painter draws inspiration from life and faculty

KennyJordan

“The gaze is important,”said Jordan about the style of his work.

Tristan Lawson

Staff Writer

Kenny Jordan had never even picked up a paintbrush until 2011. But after the Pensacola native and now studio art major took his first painting class at UWF, that all changed.

“I didn’t know how to hold a brush or what to do with it,” Jordan said, as he described first getting started as a painter.

From the perspective of his instructors, Kenny has come a long way. Lydia Toy, a painting instructor at UWF, called Kenny the “best painter in the department.”

Even after winning ”best painting” in two recent student art shows, and a studio full of large impressive paintings to his credit, he remains humble and aims to keep growing his work.

“I like figurative work. Academic painting I like as well, but at the same time I like to be intuitive. I don’t like being stuck in one particular style,” Jordan said when asked how he would describe his style. “Everything is learning, though,” he said.

He acknowledges that he owes a lot to some of his mentors. Especially Marzia Ransom, who was his first painting instructor and the person who persuaded him to take more painting classes.

“She said she wasn’t going to allow me to take the classes I was taking, and she was going to force me to take a painting class,” he said, light-heartedly as he talked about his first class with her.

Jordan started as a visual media major, but after getting into painting, it has been his focus at school. “I invest a lot in it,” he said.

Jordan said the arts program at UWF has helped move his art forward, adding, “It has helped me out a lot. I think it depends on the student, because we have great instructors, and if you really go for it, they give you everything you need and the correct information to put you on the right path.”

Some of Jordan’s favorite artists include Rembrandt, Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt, but he is quick to give credit to the instructors in the department that have helped him and supported him throughout the years. He said he has drawn more than just technical knowledge and technique from them. Jordan said sometimes the instructors can teach you more than just what is on the syllabus.

“I look at all their stuff. I learn just by being in their class and not necessarily doing the work, but I will spend about 75 percent of the class just watching them,” Jordan said.

“You can tell which ones take it really seriously, and it means a lot. And once you pick up on that, then you understand; I don’t have to treat these paintings like assignments anymore.”

Since87IwasChosen

“Since 87 I was Chosen” by Kenny Jordan

“They (my paintings) all mean a lot of things, I dive into a lot of symbolism… they recall a lot of events in my life but at the same time I try to make them timeless,” Jordan said, as he described his pieces “Since 87 I was Chosen,” which are portraits of himself and his brother.

“I let them speak for themselves because I want them to speak to the viewer as much as they speak to me,” Jordan said. Here he is with another self-portrait entitled, “‘Soliloquy.”

Soliloquy

“Soliloquy” by Kenny Jordan.

CAB hits all the right notes

CAB-Fall-15_Twitter-StreamAmanda Gerow

Staff Writer

There are few places students can go to experience trivia nights with awesome prizes, haunted houses, or even a lip sync battle, but the Campus Activity Board (CAB) at the University of West Florida puts those events right in students’ paths.

CAB is a campus organization led by students who are in charge of programming various events and diverse acts to entertain student life on campus.

The first of the events for the semester is “A Pitch Perfect Night,” at 8 p.m. Thursday in the Commons Auditorium.

The night will kick off with a performance from acapella group The Exchange, which appeared on NBC’s “The Sing-Off.” Following the performance there will be a showing of “Pitch Perfect 2” in the auditorium.

“This is CAB’s first big artist coming to the school, and it’s going to be something new and fresh for the semester,” said CAB Treasurer Brandon Wood.

CAB strives to provide events for UWF students to attend for free. With the help of funding from student fees, CAB is able to host various events that allow students to branch out and have a good time.

Each month CAB hosts All CAB meetings. These meetings are open to all students who would like to learn about the events for the month and what is going on in the organization. It is also a good way to voice ideas straight from the student body.

The rest of the fall semester has multiple events planned. October starts with an Open Mic Night at 8 p.m. on Oct. 8 in the Argo Galley. An All CAB meeting is at 5 p.m. on Oct. 15 in the Nautilus Chamber. The month ends with Fright Night, a haunted house, at 8 p.m. on Oct.29 in the Commons Auditorium.

November begins with an All CAB Meeting at 5 p.m. on Nov. 5 in the Commons room 272. A movie night will be held at 8 p.m. on Nov. 12, in the Commons Auditorium. The CAB semester events end with a Lip Sync Battle at 8 p.m. on Nov. 19 in the Commons Auditorium.

CAB encourages students to get involved with all of the events. There is currently an open poll for the movie that will be shown in November. To cast your vote, visit ArgoPulse to choose from “Ant-Man,” “Straight Outta Compton” or “Trainwreck”.

The entire semester calendar of events is located on ArgoPulse. For more information on any of these and future events, check out the calendar and plan a fun-filled semester of free events.

Millennials’ vote could go to Bernie Sanders

BernieSanders

2016 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, protests for higher minimum wage at Liberty University in Virginia, Photo courtesy of CNN

Cassie Rhame

Staff Writer

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, is being talked about in college classrooms around the country, and the discussion does not seem to be subsiding.

Sanders looks like the epitome of what young hipsters seem to hate the most – old white men. So why does he seem to be grabbing the millennial generation’s attention? The answer is simple – he is the true progressive young people want.

From what surveys have found, Millennials are sick of the U.S.’s two-party system. While many other candidates are trying to hop on the bandwagon of advertising more independent reform policies to impress millennials, Sanders has long been separated from the pack.

A survey from the Pew Research Center found that 51 percent of millennial voters claim to be Independent, and with the generation’s more open approach to socialism, Sanders makes for the ideal candidate.

UWF junior environmental science major Ridley Lancaster said, “With his ideas on college education, he just wants to invest in the future of students, which creates more qualified people for different careers.”

Lancaster said he believes Sanders is humble and caters to millennials because he is for the common man and is relatable for young people.

Even though Sanders appears to have high value among the younger generation, not everyone agrees that he will survive come election time.

“He is too shy for debaters,” said Jaden Heron, UWF sophomore and marine biology major. “If he was bolder with more of a ‘Here I am’ attitude, he would be great.”

Sanders is noted for his advocacy for civil rights issues, social inequality, universal healthcare, student debt reform, and freedom from Washington. These policies are among the highest in concern for millennials, and with student debt being at its highest rate in history for 2015 college graduates, it is clear what attracts young people to Sanders.

Back in 1963, Sanders marched with Martin Luther King Jr. before his “I have a dream…” speech, and was also arrested during a sit-in. It is plausible that this longtime support for civil rights is attracting young voters. Students say they believe it is apparent that Sanders is authentic in his current efforts because of the consistency he has shown on the matter.

“He remained so calm during his speech that was interrupted by Black Lives Matter advocates, and that is wholesome,” said UWF junior and hospitality major Katharis Gadson.

“Bernie talks about stuff that matters, like racial issues, which many try to pretend don’t exist, and college tuition,” said Gadson. “We shouldn’t have to pay so much money for college, and Bernie fights for that.” Gadson said he feels students and millennials respect Sanders for his outlook on more affordable education.

There will always be exceptions to the majority, and UWF senior and global marketing major Jeremiah Luger is not fully convinced that Bernie Sanders is reaching out to all millennials. “I am just not a supporter of full on socialism, and I feel that is what Bernie stands for,” said Luger. “Socialism is not going to fix our economy.”

What is fascinating is that Sanders is not only popular among millennials that classify as Democrat or Independent, but even some Republicans show support.

“As a Republican, I love Bernie Sanders,” said former UWF student and film major Hayley Bennett. “He seems sincere in everything that he says, and I think young people respect that. His push for cheaper college education is a big deal for me.”

Esther Richard, who works in the reference department in the library, said, “I don’t know much about the guy, but I am definitely all about making college more affordable.” Richard is not a part of the millennial generation, but it is interesting to see that the support for his policies is not limited by age.

An article in Huffington Post indicates that Sanders has gone up in the polls by 10 points since July, and has gone from 4.9 percent in ratings to 23.4 percent in a matter of months. An Economist/YouGov poll in July found that 44 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds plan to vote for Sanders, as opposed to 45 percent who would choose Hillary Clinton.

“Bernie might be an old white man, but he fights for what we care about as college students,” said Bennett. “I think he has a real chance next year.”

Not sure which candidate you side with? Take this quiz to find out.

SGA brings students’ needs to the forefront this school year

Kaitlin Englund

Life and Entertainment editor

A new school year is underway and, the University of West Florida Student Government Association is moving forward armed with fresh ideas and goals, with a strong emphasis on student involvement.

SGA President Daniel McBurney said this semester is about accomplishing some of the goals laid out in the McBurney/Hebert 2015 spring campaign platform.

One of the biggest initiatives of the campaign platform includes promoting the “It’s On Us” campaign. This is a nationwide movement to promote awareness and prevention of sexual assault on college campuses. Launched by the White House in September 2014, “It’s On Us” is approaching its one-year anniversary. The SGA will host an anniversary event on Sept. 21 in the University Commons to support the initiative.

McBurney said the event will be an opportunity for students to learn more about the campaign and take the pledge.

“The more students can get involved with it and really take it on, the more the campus culture is going to change,” McBurney said.

This semester, in addition to bolstering support for the “It’s On Us” campaign, the SGA wants to focus on campus diversity and student organizations.

The SGA Director of Student Life, Kali Richardson, has been working with the Office of Equity, Diversity and International Affairs, as well as student organizations, to promote various diversity months such as September’s National Hispanic Heritage Month.

“We really want to get the student organizations involved so that we can create that diverse culture on our campus,” McBurney said. “And not only show off those diversities, but have the student organizations get involved with it and have SGA be that catalyst for involvement.”

McBurney said the SGA also wants to see more collaboration between student organizations to create a better atmosphere for student involvement. He said they have seen that cooperation come to fruition through the Campus Collaboration Board. The board was created to set strategic plans for student involvement at UWF, as well as create a master calendar of events for all student organizations to utilize. The Campus Collaboration Board unanimously passed its first reading at Friday’s senate meeting and will have its second reading on Sept. 25.

“The Campus Collaboration Board will be comprised of some of the specific representatives from bigger demographics of student organizations,” McBurney said.

The board will be chaired by SGA Vice President Jake Hebert and will include representatives from the SGA, the Student Athlete Advisory Council, the Inter-Fraternal Programming Board, Campus Activity Board, Homecoming, and other student representatives.

McBurney says SGA is working to make the campus better for all students.

“We definitely plan on making sure the student voice is heard, and making sure while the decisions are being made on our campus, that they know exactly what the students want,” said McBurney. “Another big thing is, with these big changes and different things like that, I think it’s really important to keep the student body informed.”

To allow students a chance to voice their opinions, the SGA will bring back “Write-it-Out Wednesdays,” where students can share their opinions on various campus topics. Open to all students, “Write-it-Out Wednesdays” will be one Wednesday a month in the University Commons. The SGA will have whiteboards set up with different topics, and students can come by and write out their opinion on the topics, as well as any concerns they may have.

Students can also provide input by attending the weekly SGA meetings. All meetings are open to the public. Students can also find  senate meeting agendas, minutes, and passed legislation online.

Although the semester has just begun, the SGA already is facing challenges, especially with budget allocations. Students have expressed concerns over the eradication of the SGA-funded, free WEPA printer pages for students.

McBurney said the printing is just one of the campus services affected by recent deficits in the budget due to fluctuation in enrollment.

“When it came to the activity and service fee budget, the enrollment went down, so therefore our budget went into a deficit, and it took a lot of our reserve money,” said McBurney. “This year, we have our reserves solidly back up, and we want to make sure if we hit another one of those deficits,  we would be able to cover it without having to cut money from big departments or organizations on campus … We’ve just got to make sure our bases are covered so students can get the fundamental, basic amenities they enjoy on campus, like the gym and the Commons.”

McBurney said other campus services have adjusted as well. Recreation has scaled back employment, as well as shortened operating hours at the gym to save money, and the theatre department cannot perform as many shows as in previous years.

Safety preparedness

emergency procedures - largerJosh Hart

Staff Writer

On Sept. 14, Ethan A. Schmidt, an assistant history professor at Delta State University, was shot and killed in his office.

Just hours earlier, Amy Prentiss, an outreach minister, was shot and killed in the home she shared with the suspect, Shannon Lamb, a geography of crime professor at the Cleveland, Mississippi, university. Lamb killed himself during a standoff with police two days later.

More than 3,000 students are enrolled at Delta State. None were injured during the shooting. All students were instructed to engage in lockdown procedures by a text message and social media alert system.

For any university, an on-campus shooting raises questions about preparation, both of the staff and of the student body.

The University of West Florida has multiple levels of preparation in case of multiple types of shootings, from domestic incidents to active mass shooters. Not only are the campus police force and staff instructed on safety measures, but this same training is available to all students as a 90-minute class offered twice a year. For students, this class is organized through student organizations such as the Student Government Association.

The same information is also offered as an online video, entitled “Shots Fired On Campus.”

A mobile alert system is in place, but it requires students, faculty, and staff to actively find and sign up for it.

So, a structure is certainly in place in case of a shooter situation, but how engaged is the student body?

Out of a random selection of 10 students polled on campus, only three had signed up for the alert service.

John Warren, chief of the UWF campus police, stresses the need for a more curious, active approach for the student body.

“I want people to ask questions. What will I do if I hear shots? What will I do if I get a text alert? I want everyone to become educated on this stuff.”

When asked about exactly how many people have signed up for the text alert, Warren was not at liberty to answer directly, saying, “We need people to work with us. We’re doing our best. I need students to do their best.”

UWF’s Emergency Operations Plan is available on the university website, and includes a section on active shooters.

Any questions about campus safety should be directed to either the UWF police at 474-2415 or Peter Robinson, director of Environmental Health and Safety, at 474-2435.

What to do in an Active Shooter Situation on Campus

An Active Shooter is an individual who is intent on killing people in a confined space or populated area. In most cases, active shooters use firearms and there is rarely a pattern or method to their selection of victims. Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Typically, active shooter situations are over in minutes before law enforcement arrives on the scene. Therefore, individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation.

How to respond during an active shooter situation:

 

  • Evacuate

 

  • If there is an escape path out of the building, evacuate immediately.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Notify others as you exit.
  • Notify the University Police immediately after reaching a safe location.

 

  • Hide Out

 

  • Find a place to hide and stay quiet.
  • Lock the door if possible.
  • Turn off lights and silence your cell phone.
  • Blockade the door with whatever is available.
  • Hide behind large items (i.e., cabinets, desks)
  • Do not open the door if someone knocks.

 

  • When the police arrive

 

  • Remain calm and follow officer’s instructions.
  • Immediately raise your hands and spread your fingers.
  • Keep your hands visible at all times.
  • Do not rush toward the officers as they may mistake you for a threat.
  • The police will not have time to assist you as they are focused on stopping the shooter.

Once you have reached safety at an assembly point, you should remain there until the situation is under control and the police have had a chance to talk with you. The police will instruct you when it is appropriate to leave the area.

From the UWF Emergency Operations Plan

Lumbering dinosaur revamped into new multimedia platform

Tom Moore

Contributing Writer

Everyone probably knows that sales of print newspapers are in decline, and have been for many years. I remember when I was a kid. We didn’t read newspapers. We read books, maybe the occasional magazine, but mostly books. My dad got his news by listening to NPR, and my mom listened to my dad. This scenario is trending more and more across the United States.

There has been a widespread attempt by many companies to put their entire newspapers online. However, this effort has resulted in limited success, mainly because the online papers, like their print counterparts, are too static and one-dimensional to hold the attention of modern-day Americans. Let’s face it: We are living in a very simplified, superficial world where people expect and demand instant access to everything. Newspapers are no exception, and those that don’t deliver are falling by the wayside.

According to a 2013 FCC report: “The advent of social media has increased the number of media outlets to its highest ever in history, but there has been a sharp decrease in utilizing the potential of these new outlets to deliver a higher quality of news.”

This is why I propose we bring back the beat model of reporting, and apply it locally. Instead of utilizing a staff reporter to cover every beat, however, we should adapt the model that has been so successful by Uber. “Citizen Reporters” can register with a paper’s website to report about what happens around their home and office. They can email or tweet stories and pictures to the website. Someone at the paper would then review the story ideas coming in, and if deemed newsworthy, a fee would be deposited into the writer’s PayPal account. A staff reporter would then do a follow-up and finish the story. With beat reporting by “citizen reporters”, we would have a constant flow of relevant information coming into the newsroom, at a fraction of the price.

Step two would be to start a newspaper blog. This blog would contains sound bites, video clips and still pictures to enhance the written reports and add authenticity to the subject matter.  With a blog, an online paper is more like a streaming interactive multimedia experience instead of a static paper.

The blog would be updated at least three times a day and would be where the citizen reporters would tweet their stories to the paper. In this way, there would be a constant, almost real-time news update from everyday citizens coming in from all over their city.

By bringing back the beat model, modified to take advantage of the current social media platforms, I believe we can bring back the flavor of local news coverage of the last century, while at the same time streamline the process and bring our readers a source of news and entertainment that everyone can use and enjoy.

UWF cross-country

sports_jDustin_wk3_xc_2

Caleb Carmichael, UWF cross country head coach, prepares an ice bath for his runners at the end of practice.
Photo by Jason Dustin

Jason Dustin

Staff Writer

Outwardly, the University of West Florida cross country teams are head-down and one foot in front of the other. Inwardly, they have their teammates and the promise of their destination in mind.

“I want to build the team back up to prominence,” Caleb Carmichael, UWF men’s and women’s head coach, said. “I want to go to the nationals every year. On the national scale we have so many good teams here at UWF. I want to make sure that we’re in that same group.”

Carmichael’s ambition was echoed by Tim Wenger, a junior.

“Our first goal is to win conference and make it to nationals,” Wenger said. “We’ve concentrated on it all summer, thinking about it and training for it, because that’s the big stage.”

Fortunately, brass-ring syndrome hasn’t soured their perspective.

“I mean, it’s college, you know,” Wenger said. “You only have four or five years of it, so just have fun, work hard and see success on and off the course.’

The Argonauts placed 13th out of 27 teams at the Memphis Twilight Classic, on Sept. 5 to open the season. The race, which featured 11 Division 1 teams, was uncharacteristically scheduled at night.

“They had music playing,” Sarah Carrion, a sophomore, said. “It was a whole different experience. After the meet I was like, ‘Coach we have to get barbeque.’ ”

Their pursuit is not always filled with Memphis-Beale-Street style ribs, music and neon signage. There is a sacrificing and devout aspect to the Argos approach to practice.

“We practice six days a week, at 6 a.m.,” Carmichael said. “When light starts to come out we’re running.”

Carmichael designs workouts for runners on an individual basis, and makes modifications throughout the season.

“I’m asking what they’re comfortable with,” the coach said. “We try to press some boundaries and see if we can push the mileage a little bit.

“I can watch them and assess them and see their body language after a run, before a run, and if they’re always looking tired I can say, ‘Hey, maybe we should back off the mileage a little bit.’

“Often they’ll say, ‘Oh, no coach, I can handle it.’ Well, they’ll say that, but sometimes I’ll make a decision and say let’s just back it off a little bit.”

Carmichael’s designs are drawn with an eye on the postseason. Course mileage will be increased at the NCAA Division II South regional tournament, which will be held in Dade City, on Nov. 7.  A top-three finish is necessary to advance to the national tournament.

Nick Merrett, a junior from Christchurch, New Zealand, has achieved much personal success in the two years he has run for UWF. Merrett was Gulf South Conference freshman of the year in 2013, as well as an all-GSC and all-South regional selection in 2013 and 2014.

When asked about his goals for the 2015 season, Merrett, an endurance athlete familiar with maintaining proper form, paused to consider his words.  The words his mind landed on were in step with the sentiments of his coach.

“For me?” Merrett said. “Focusing on the team. I try to score as low as I can, but at the same I feel a responsibility to help establish a pace for the team.  You’re looking throughout the course to rally your teammates.”

European refugee crisis hits home

Tristan Lawson

Staff Writer

At this moment a refugee crisis is overwhelming much of Europe. We have seen the images and videos of desperate people running from border police, packed on trains bound for Europe, begging for help. Most recently, however, much more media attention has been brought to this pressing issue because of children: victims of a conflict they had nothing to do with, born in the middle of warzones, running from a desperate situation, only to perish along the way and wash up on beaches in foreign countries.

For some of us, it is difficult to relate to these situations happening in countries so far away. We are often left asking ourselves, “What can I do? How can I help? Why should I care?”

For others, the conflict is more real than you think. While most of us might not feel the impact, there are some important humanitarian issues to consider that affect all of us… even here at UWF.

Kinan Ghibih, a freshman at UWF studying computer science, was born in America but his family’s native country is Syria. While he was a child, his family returned to Syria to be with family for a time before returning to America.

“I have family there (in Syria) that have been suffering due to the unwillingness of most countries in the region to accept refugees,” Ghibih said.

Ghibih’s aunt and uncles are still in Damascus. “They are still there because they can’t get out. They have already lost homes, and any financial assets are gone at this point,” he said.

Some countries in the EU are welcoming these refugees and have pledged to do more in the future. So far, Germany has been the most outspoken and generous of these European nations, welcoming thousands of people into their country.

“I think it’s incredible that they stepped up and did something like that … that made me really happy,” Ghibih said. “When that news came out, I instantly called my cousin, who is living in Lebanon right now. He was allowed in (Germany) two years ago when the conflict started getting really bad. I told him he should think about going to school there because they offer university to all students for free.”

Some people in the U.S. already have strong opinions about immigration into our country and are making comparisons between the refugee crisis in Europe and the legal and illegal immigration into America. But are they the same thing?

“I can understand the similarity, but the thing is, this is more urgent for the Syrians,” Ghibih said. “Their homes are in complete and utter chaos. Just a week after my family got out of their home, the whole building was destroyed, and that is happening to many families there.”

The same question is being asked of European nation leaders as well as the U.N. “Are these people migrants just looking for a new life, or are they refugees?” said Jacob Shively, assistant professor at UWF in the department of Government, during a discussion on the difficulties in classifying this massive movement of people.

Not all countries are willing to help these people, however, and some are being abused and mistreated while fleeing. The most outspoken of these countries is Hungary, which has made it clear that they do not want refugees in their country.

“It’s sad. I have nothing to say to them. If they can’t understand the situation, I can’t make them; it’s just a flaw of character,” Ghibih said. “When I see other countries who are stopping these people, I just don’t understand why. Honestly, I think they are just scared.”

But every sovereign nation has different motivations and scenarios to pay attention to, and nothing is black and white when the topic of a mass migration of refugees is concerned.

“I think a lot of citizens from those countries (EU) find it difficult … I don’t know if some people (Europeans) will let those civil liberties go and move into humanitarianism,” said Rachel Errington, director of the International Student Office.

But the burden is not only on European countries. This crisis has been affecting other nations for years now.

“In Jordan, for instance, there are maybe 1 million to 1.5 million refugees, which is far more than what Europe is looking at,” Shively said. “The real crisis is still in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, where most of these refugees are going. One-fourth of the population is dead or has left because of the civil war.”

The conflict in Syria has been going on for more than four years now. So why all the attention now?

“Some prominent events have brought it to public awareness, but this has been building in the Middle East,” Shively said.

“Everyone has seen the picture of the little 3-year-old boy by now … it’s super sad but maybe it’s the way of awakening,” Errington said. “There are little kids who are completely innocent to this situation. They don’t even understand what religion is at this point, they don’t have anywhere to go, and they are being found on beaches because their mothers would rather take the risk of going on a boat to find refuge than stay in a country where they are probably going to die anyway. Only now, when people see images of the kids, do people start feeling it, but worse stuff has been happening.”

It is also important to remember that many of these refugees are coming from other places with completely separate conflicts, some of which the U.S. has a direct involvement. Many people are asking, do we (Americans) have a responsibility to help more than we are?

“If our government tried to intervene, tried to supply the rebels and tried to help overthrow Bashar al-Assad … why not be a part of it now when it’s about saving the people?” Ghibih said. “It’s not even about saving the country anymore. We should be accepting more refugees.”

As this crisis begins to reach a tipping point, it seems inevitable that the U.S. will become more involved and maybe reach out to welcome more refugees. But when and if we do, how will refugees be received by average Americans?

“I would like to think that the majority of our country will respond to it positively, mainly because younger kids now are starting to be more tolerant, accepting of different cultures and more aware,” Ghibih said.

There are many issues to consider in this debate and many different perspectives, but Ghibih said it was important to pay attention to the big picture.

“The one thing that should really outline this whole thing is that people need to be a little less concerned about what part of the world Syrians are from and what religion they might belong to, and remember that they are humans and they need help, and that innocent people are dying daily. People who have no say or opinion in the conflict, it’s not their fault. They had no hand in it, and now they are being affected. They want to live, why are we denying Syrians the right to survive?”

Free textbooks, anyone?

cassierhamestory.jpg

Photo courtesy of OpenStax

Cassie Rhame

Staff Writer

OpenStax College is a nonprofit organization launched in 2012 to offer free digitalized textbooks for students. So why is no one talking about it?

If there is one thing college kids love, it is free stuff. Free food, free drinks, free entertainment—they want it all. The Rice University-based nonprofit OpenStax College offers every university student’s dream – free textbooks.

While there was hype over OpenStax when it was introduced in 2012, its fame was short-lived. The organization’s recent appearance on college students’ Facebook news feeds is bringing it back into discussion.

UWF students are surprised when they hear about the nonprofit publisher. Most had heard of OpenStax, but had not researched it in detail. The response is, to no surprise, overwhelmingly enthusiastic.

“Free textbooks?” UWF junior engineering major Evan Flagg said. “I didn’t even know that was possible. I’m so down with that.”

Unfortunately, not every textbook is available through OpenStax.

The books developed to date only include those of core classes, which are the most common texts needed by students around the world.

OpenStax stays afloat with the help of several company and foundation sponsorships. The cost for each book to be processed is more than $500,000. Rice University claimed that the organization has saved students more than $30 million.

“More than 150 colleges, universities and high schools have adopted an OpenStax textbook since the nonprofit publisher’s 2012 launch,” wrote Jade Boyd of Rice University News.

“I bought a statistics book freshman year, and it was over $300,” UWF communications sophomore Courtney Randall said. “I just wish UWF would have had these free books before I completed all my core classes. Hopefully they will get with this program eventually.”

The idea seems simple, and it appears to be working for the universities that have already adopted these texts. The organization works with publishers to hire peer-reviewers and authors to develop these high-quality texts and only requires that schools sign up and acquire access codes for their students to use the books.

Even though free textbooks sound like the gateway to a perfect world to students, there are still those who are not certain about the adoption of these texts.

“In principle, I’m in favor for students being able to afford their books, but to me, it is a lot like the idea of free tuition,” Judge Ross Goodman said, UWF professor in the law department. “It sounds great, but who is going to end up paying for it?”

Goodman said he is worried that some will suffer in their business, steering towards the idea that anything free comes at a price. “Capitalism needs to be humane, but also realistic.”

University bookstores are one of the potential competitors that could suffer a loss in sales if OpenStax was to reach their school.

UWF Bookstore manager Greg Kirby does not seem too worried, however, showing great faith in the store’s mission to offer an affordable wide range of course materials for students.

“We also share in OpenStax’s affordability mission—the UWF Bookstore delivers a wide range of cost-saving choices, print and digital, to ensure all students have hassle-free access to materials that fit their budget and study needs,” Kirby said.

With options to rent or buy used texts, bookstores are already making cuts to try and cover the needs of the average broke college student.

The interesting thing about OpenStax College is that the website offers a “student toolkit for success” that encourages students to take matters into their own hands by going to their teachers and spreading the word. Click here to access the student toolkit.

OpenStax College’s free books have been accessed online by more than 1.7 million people and downloaded more than 170,000 times since June 2012, according to their website, www.openstaxcollege.org/news.